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Fate of stores is in the balance
8:00am Sunday 26th August 2012 in News
Panning officers are expected to announce next month whether to approve plans for two supermarket giants in Malmesbury.
People from across the community have been eagerly waiting news on plans for a Sainsbury’s on the Nurden’s garden centre site, and Waitrose on land behind the Avon silk mills, after months of consultation and debate.
Malmesbury Town Council has been advised that a decision by planning officers will be made in September.
If Wiltshire councillors John Thompson and Simon Killane feel there is strong opposition locally to the decision made by officers, they will be able to call in the applications for debate and voting at cabinet level.
Tensions have been high over the last few months with many expressing their frustration about the length of time it was taking for planning officers to come to a decision.
Coun Killane said: “It’s interesting how everybody wants to know what’s happening but it’s a big thing for the town.
“The stores could have a potentially significant effect on the town, good or bad, and I’m glad the officers have done so much work.”
Concerns had been raised about the effect the supermarkets will have on the High Street, as well as the environmental and flooding risks associated with the Waitrose development.
Waitrose has announced plans for an additional information day on September 6, to answer questions from the public, and to show their amendments to concerns raised previously by planning officers and consultees such as English Heritage.
Coun Killane said: “My guess is that with both applications there are a lot of things that officers want more evidence on and this is an opportunity for Waitrose to re-address things that they think might make their application more acceptable.
“Waitrose has to convince Wiltshire Council that putting a store on a piece of land that is a huge conservation site would be acceptable, and Sainsbury’s has to convince Wiltshire Council that its site won’t have a dramatic, negative effect on businesses in the town.
“We as a community have to understand that these people will go to appeal.”
The Waitrose information day will take place in Malmesbury Town Hall from noon to 9pm on Thursday September 6.
Jonathan Banham of Waitrose said: “Over the past year, we’ve been working with people in Malmesbury to finalise our scheme. “We have wanted to come to Malmesbury for a very long time and believe we have an excellent opportunity now to make a major investment in the town that can deliver significant long-term benefits, including new jobs.”
Ben Littman, Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “Our proposed store will redevelop a brownfield site and create 200 new jobs. Following feedback from our consultation we’ve been able to make changes, such as reducing the amount of non-food products sold in-store. “We are committed to coming to Malmesbury and believe Malmesbury Garden Centre is the right site.”